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Columns

February 9, 2013

Oneonta building projects made news in early 1888

(Continued)

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“Several of the railroad employes (sic) of Oneonta have built from their savings some of the neatest residences in the village,” it was reported on Jan. 19. “Notably is this so of the dwellings of H.C. Smith and Charles Beach.” The article didn’t say where these homes were. “Engineer Charles Ossiker has just paid $1,000 for the vacant lot at Watkins ave. and Fairview st. and awarded the contract for a fine house to contractor Butts. The railroad engineer who earns from $90 to $125 per month, has as large a net income as many men who have their capital invested in business, and every engineer ought, therefore, to have a good home of his own.”

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No construction had yet begun at the top of Maple Street for the new Oneonta Normal School, the beginning of what is today’s State University College at Oneonta. The funds budgeted in 1887 for the building, $45,000, apparently didn’t seem sufficient for a structure of quality in the minds of some. A superintendent of public instruction said, concerning the Oneonta construction, that $45,000 was inadequate for a suitable building.

“A flimsy building, which will always be discreditable to the state and which will cost more in a few years to keep in repair than a good building will cost now can be erected, but that is manifestly unwise.”

What that meant was $114,000 would be more sufficient for the building. The request was made in a bill introduced by state Sen. Frank B. Arnold in 1888, and approved by the state Legislature. The building stood until 1977.

In “An Opinion from Walton” seen in the Herald in January, the bill should have been rejected.

“A stop should be put to the pernicious habit of making plans for a public building to cost two or three times the amount asked for or appropriated.—Chronicle.”

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